We haven't seen a new Google Nest Hub since March 2021 when sleep sensing capabilities were added to the smart display. If a new report is to be believed, the next generation of the device could come with a detachable screen that doubles up as a tablet.
That's according to sources in the know speaking to 9to5Google (opens in new tab). The upcoming third-generation Google Nest Hub is apparently slated to break cover at some point during 2022, although at this stage we don't know too much more about it.
We don't know what the screen size will be (the current Nest Hub options are 7 inches and 10 inches), and we don't know how much this is going to cost. However, the new information does fit with earlier rumors that Google is reinvesting in tablet technology.
If Google is indeed planning a new Nest Hub with a detachable display, it poses the question of what software the device is going to run. The recently unveiled, tablet-friendly Android 12L could be one option, and would enable full Android app support.
Alternatively, Google could stick with the simpler Cast software that runs on the current 2nd-gen Nest Hub and which has been given several upgrades recently. Another possibility is that the next device will come with the fledgling Fuchsia OS – that operating system is currently used by the first-gen Nest Hub.
Another question is when Google is going to make this next Nest Hub official. It's worth keeping an eye on the Google IO 2022 event for developers – it has been used as a new hardware showcase in the past, and this year's show starts on May 11.
Analysis: smart speakers continue to evolve
First came the smart speaker, driven by the launch and the subsequent popularity of the Amazon Echo. Next came the smart speaker with a screen, and again it was Amazon leading the way with the Amazon Echo Show in a variety of sizes.
There has been talk that Apple could fit the next HomePod with a display, just like the Amazon Echo Show and the Google Nest Hub. That would mean all three of the big players in smart speakers would have a smart display to their name as well.
While the original appeal of the smart speaker was its simplicity, the addition of a screen does enable a lot of extra functionality – not least being able to tap on the screen to select options and features rather than using your voice.
A detachable screen takes everything another step further too, enabling users to control their smart home from any room. The extra appeal is obvious – and if Google could pull it off it would give them an advantage on the smart device market.